One of our clients was inspired by the floors of the Hermitage in St Petersburg. Yes, the one that Catherine the Great had built for her Winter Palace in 1764. His home is in Balham, a distinctly a more modest affair. He, and his wife, together planned the interiors of their terraced house. He designed the floors and we fitted them.
So, why not, we thought, introduce you to some fabulous examples of decorated floors that might be food for thought if you have an appetite for a giving your home a makeover.
The Hermitage, St Petersburg.
This seaport city has suffered an identity crisis with the changing of the name according to the political masters: Sankt-Pieter-Burch then Petrograd then Leningrad and now Saint Petersburg. All in 250 years or so. The Hermitage name has, however, endured becoming Russia’s cultural centre for art, music and drama.
The Pearl on the Schelde
Moving on to Flanders in Belgium: some thirty years later between 1792 and 1797, the third duke d’Ursel and his wife Flore d’Arenberg built a remarkable pavilion, the Notelaer, on the banks of the River Schelde in Flanders. It was abandoned for many years and finally submitted a flood in 1953. Since then, three generous and sympathetic owners restored the building to its original and eccentric beauty. It has now become a subject of interest to historians, art scientists, archetects and wood specialists amongst many other academic disciplines.
De Notelaer was designed by the French architect, Charles De Wailly Externally, the design is an Italian Renaissance architectural gem and looks as if it was intended to be a part of something far grander. The truth is, it was never to be anything more than it is.
It is the interior of the octagon that gives its nick name, the Pearl of the Schelde. This beautiful room has entertained the luminaries of Europe as well as the Belgian King Albert II and Queen Paola. Here, the floor is the centrepiece of the design, never the poor relation!
As gorgeous as the floor of De Notelear is, allow us, if you will, a small but relevant diversion. Back in 2016, we fitted a marquetry floor in London’s Bond Street showroom of Jaeger LeCoultre. The design reflected a fanlight ceiling with the wood pieces separated by solid brass spacers. Here is the result:
Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna
The Habsburg dynasty was all-powerful in Europe spawning kings and archdukes of Austria, Italy, Bohemia and Spain also producing a couple of Holy Roman emperors. They had a taste for outrageous opulence and a habit of inbreeding which eventually neutered the line.
Schloss Scheenbrun, as it was known, was the Royal summer palace in Vienna. It was a rococo palace in the grandest of styles with 1,441 rooms and set in vast decorative gardens. Nevertheless, for all its pomp and circumstance, it has an important place in history and a tribute to the arts. Once again, the design of the floor plays a starring role in the overall design.
The Chateau de Verseilles
The palace of Verseilles was the obsession of Louis XIV, of France, The Sun God. At the time, his vision, and eventual completion in 1682, put all the other European palaces in the shade. The finished palace had a thousand more rooms than the Schönbrunn Palace and was so vast that it was a small town and, until the revolution, the centre of Government in France.
Verseilles is famed for its hardwood floors, repeated in the famous Hall of Mirrors, The war Room and The Peace Room. This pattern remains a favourite floor design in commercial and residential buildings to this day. It is offered by the Hardwood floor suppliers as ‘engineered’ flooring, being more durable and money-saving in fitting.
A wonderful world
And finally, some marquetry of our own design. For our showroom in Battersea, close by the heliport showcases different woods, patterns, finishes and colours. In the middle, we designed a compass rose carefully oriented to magnet north. The floor, which in places carries on up the wall, reflects the eclectic style of our presentation complete with unfinished boards with their natural irregularities and the colour bar where we can show you how we can work our magic with different wood samples. Take a seat on our sofa, have some proper coffee and let your eyes drift inspirationally on a tour into a unique and wonderful world.
In the right direction. Our compass rose set in the middle of our showroom. A good indication of wood colouring.
Over to you
We hope this article inspires some ideas for your rooms. Our booklet, Coming to terms with fitted floors, gives a few examples of floor patterns and colours as well as the specialist ways we fit perfect floors.
For your FREE downloadable copy, click below.